Forgiveness and Compassion

What do you think? Do forgiveness and compassion go hand in hand? Without compassion is it ever possible to really forgive someone else? For sure if you hold a grudge or cannot forgive, then it is not possible to feel compassion for that other person.

As Christians we are called upon to show compassion to others, and to forgive others. There are several bible passages where Jesus demonstrates both and calls upon his followers to do likewise.

So why do so many find it so hard? Whether Christian or non Christian, a lot of people cannot forgive. It could be something as simple as an perceived or deliberate insult, or as major as being raped or violated or having a loved one killed by someone else.

Tribal conflicts carry on for generations because of some long ago dispute that nobody can forgive, or nobody is allowed to forgive. Revenge attacks are carried out from one side to the other in a never ending spiral of violence, all because the people involved cannot forgive, and have no compassion left for anybody else.

As Christians  we forgive so as to be holy in Gods sight, for Jesus himself commanded us not to come bearing gifts to the alter if we had a grudge against our brother. We have to make peace with our brother before we can come to the alter. And by truly forgiving another and making peace with him, we make peace within ourselves. Otherwise it is not true forgiveness. We cannot put provisos into our forgiveness.

But whether Christian or non Christian we need to remember that forgiving and moving on often does more for our own peace of mind than it may do for the person or people we forgive. We forgive to give ourselves peace. Often the person we are forgiving might not even know or care if they are forgiven. They might not even know what they have done wrong, they might be dead. We forgive for us. We show compassion not only to others, but mainly to ourselves. We cannot carry grudges through life or even fail to forgive ourselves for our own failings, without those grudges and bad feelings having consequences on ourselves. The consequences of not forgiving and instead adding another grudge to the baggage we carry around in life, is to weigh ourselves down, to never allow ourselves to be truly happy. How can we be happy if we have all these grudges to carry with us? It is not possible. Carry enough of them around and they will start to fester within you like a cancer, colouring all your decisions, affecting your ability to trust or love others, altering your whole outlook on life, and possibly leading to real health issues as well.

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Only a strong person who knows what is important in life can forgive, and maybe that is why so many people struggle with forgiveness. They feel that they should not forgive, to do so would be to allow the other person to win, it would be weak, whereas as we see, it is the opposite. It demonstrates that the other person cannot win in taking our happiness, it gives the power back to us, as only he who has been wronged has the power to forgive another.








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